about bliss

Friday, September 18, 2009

daily bliss: fresh from the garden

In a byzantine system that's too complicated to explain here, my English Department colleagues are sprinkled across the great state of Wisconsin. Occasionally, conferences, workshops, and/or projects bring us together. 

Yesterday I headed North to join a few of my favorite English Dept. friends to work on a Lesson Study project. Afterwards, I stayed at A and R's farmstead, and we set about exploring the garden. 

This week the weather shifted—the air suddenly smelled of fall, the chill came quicker in the evening, and lasted longer in the morning. As we walked through the garden, tomatoes and beans gave way to hardier squashes and tenacious herbs. Cute pie pumpkins and one baby watermelon lay plump amongst dying vines. 

We clipped and snipped and lifted, and headed indoors. R marinated tofu with a mixture of honey, soy sauce, sriracha hot sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar. The tofu baked until it was golden and fragrant. I julienned zucchini, lemon cucumbers, and one lone carrot while A cooked rice noodles and set out the goodies—including mint, basil, pea shoots, and arugula—on the table to create our own Vietnamese Spring Rolls. 

These rolls were beyond fresh, and absolutely scrumptious. I quickly learned the process: place a rice paper spring roll wrapper in boiling water until it was thin and flexible. I spread the wrapper on my plate, squiggled hoisin sauce on the wrapper, and then began layering the tofu and vegetables. I rolled and tucked until I had a somewhat neat looking packet, dipped it in peanut sauce, and took a bite. 

Each flavor, from pungent to spicy to sweet, melded together in most bites, and I eagerly rolled my second roll. 

We sampled, er, drank a paper bottle (read: box) of organic Torrontes, and talked and laughed as we continued to fashion our own dinner from the abundant ingredients on the table. 

To finish the meal, we ate the flaky peach and apple turnovers I made for TWD before processing tomatoes from their garden.

This morning, I experienced nirvana in the form of a tiny BLT—sustainable bacon, local lettuce, cherokee purple tomato, and homemade buttermilk bread. As I drove home, I gave seriously consideration to eating some sustainable pork products on occasion. They're so delicious, and sometimes I have a hard time remembering why I'm not eating it in the first place...stay tuned. 


  1. I am so glad you had such a nice visit with your friends/colleagues. The rolls look and sound scrummy, as does the BLT.

  2. My mouth is watering...summer rolls are some of my favorites, and those sounds DI. VINE.

    If we ever form a band, I think we should name it Sustainable Bacon.

  3. (and our first album can be named Spingle, after the word verification I got on the last comment. Or maybe with an exclamation point. Sustainable Bacon presents....Spingle!)

    (no, I have not been drinking this evening. maybe i should be?)

  4. Ohhh my gosh those rolls sound divine! Can you share the tofu marinating sauce??

    And I totally hear you on the pork. It's the meat I miss the most, and if I could find some humane pig farmers, I'd love it!

  5. Sounds like you had a great time.

    I want to try spring rolls, one day....